One of the most important aspects in Persona games is the characters, if not the most important aspect. The Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series puts a much larger emphasis on story, using its characters to explore mature and hard hitting themes. So far the cast of Persona 4 has unquestionably resonated with fans the most, receiving multiple spin-offs after its initial release. You’ve got the fighting games Persona 4 Arena and Ultimax, the rhythm game Persona 4: Dancing All Night, and the crossover with Persona 3 called Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. We’ve seen the Investigation Team time and again, but with the release of Persona 5 a brand new cast of characters were able to step into the spotlight. These characters manage to be every bit as memorable as what we’ve seen from the series so far, and in particular seem like they’d be the perfect fit for another spin-off project.
Persona 5’s main party is made up of misunderstood teenagers, people who still haven’t found a place where they feel like they belong. Most of the game centers around this theme, as each of the Phantom Thieves have to struggle with how society has wronged them. Over the course of the game you get to know each character better, and they each begin to find that sense of belonging within the group. Persona 5 is certainly not a short game clocking in at nearly 100 hours, most of which is filled with story and character development.
By the end you really feel like you have an understanding of each of the party members, they’ve all grown as people through their own plotlines and the main story. Whether it’s Yusuke’s struggle to once again find the beauty in his art, or Makoto trying to help a friend in danger and realizing her own shortcomings in the process.
Because of this, Persona 5 creates a great leaping off point for the series. After 100 hours we know who these people are, what they’re about, and who they want to be going forward. Each one gets proper screen time and a role to play in the story, even as more and more members of The Phantom Thieves join. No one feels like they have to sit on the sidelines, and the distinct personalities create a memorable team dynamic. Now that we’ve spent so much intimate time with the Thieves, we can move onto something new, something that gives us a glimpse into their future.
It’d be an absolute joy to see where each of the Phantom Thieves go. Did Yusuke find his passion and become a famous artist? What career does Ann choose to actually pursue? These kinds of questions were answered, in part, by Persona 4 Arena and Dancing All Night. The Phantom Thieves deserve the same attention, and they’d be a perfect fit for the same kind of fighting game spin-off.
In terms of combat and character design, The Phantom Thieves feel more distinct than any other Persona team before. The party all eqiups specific Personas, weapons, guns, and sport a costume that reflects their idea of a rebel. The visual design alone would translate well into a 2D fighting title, and Persona 5’s sleek menus and transitions could work wonders. Not to mention how easy it’d be to design the different characters. You already have a diverse cast with engaging visual designs, who each has their own specific moveset and abilities.
Persona 4 Arena already worked well because of the elemental abilities of each character, but now Persona 5 can take that one step further. Like Arena, Physical attacks could be on one button, while Persona-based attacks are on another, and gun attacks can function as special moves.
There’s also a chance for crossover in a new Persona 5 game, as we know that the Persona 4 cast exist in the same world through Easter Eggs. For example you can find an ad for a new album by Rise in the train station of Persona 5, or see a news segment hinting at Chie entering the police academy. Like Persona 4 Arena did, a Persona 5 spin-off could give us a chance to see the two casts interact in the face of some new threat.
Of course, perhaps Atlus finds something entirely new to do, and the Persona 5 spin-off isn’t a fighting game. Either way, the characters they’ve crafted deserve another shot, even in a smaller experience. Creating a spinoff game would allow more time with these characters, and the chance to see a different side of their personalities with different gameplay styles. Persona 4 Arena shows us harder, more focused characters while Dancing All Night feels like one final get together for the group where they get to let loose.
The cast of Persona 5 is truly a memorable and lovable group of friends, with each member feeling equally thought out and developed. With so much care and consideration put into The Phantom Thieves, it would truly be a shame to only see them get one adventure.